The Dermatologist’s Guide To Psoriasis Skin Care

By Ramona SinhaRamona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Whether you have been recently diagnosed with psoriasis or have had it all your life, you will be glad to know that you can do a lot about it. Skin care is a crucial part of psoriasis management, and when you have psoriasis, your skin demands a LOT of care and attention. Ahead, board-certified dermatologists Dr. Orit Markowitz, MD, and Dr. Audrey Kunin, MD, share the tweaks to your daily makeup and skin care routines to manage psoriasis. Scroll down.

Best Skin Care Practices For Managing Psoriasis

Dr. Kunin suggests consistency in skin care is key to keeping the skin healthy and as rash-free as possible. She says, “Moisturize twice daily, ideally with an active moisturizer that helps lift away dead, dry skin.”

Dr. Markowitz also resonates the same. She recommends the following tips:

  • Use the thickest moisturizer possible with a good sealant to enhance the damaged skin barrier.
  • Use OTC hydrocortisone ointment to protect chronically chapped psoriatic lips.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol as these may aggravate the condition.
  • Use makeup sparingly, and if using, apply a thick moisturizer underneath it.
  • If you must use a cover-up, avoid cosmetics with fragrance and drying ingredients. Instead, use sweat, and water-resistant makeup as that will not get absorbed into the skin. Choose products with SPF or use a separate sunscreen.

AM-PM Skin Care Tips For Managing Psoriasis

The skin care routine for psoriasis management focuses on maintaining the skin barrier and managing inflammation. Dr. Kunin suggests the following tips:


  • Shower and cleanse the skin with a medicated cleanser or soap that contains salicylic acid, pyrithione zinc, or Dead Sea salts.
  • Post showering, apply a cortisone cream to symptomatic spots (if you experience itching).
  • Apply a thick layer of an active moisturizer that contains salicylic or glycolic acid.


  • Treat symptomatic spots. Apply a cream containing tar or cortisone.
  • Follow it up with an active moisturizer containing salicylic or glycolic acid.

What To Put On Your Skin: Products And Ingredients

Dr. Kunin suggests the following products and ingredients:

1. Products with 2%- 3% salicylic acid like:

  • Dermarest 3% Salicylic Acid Gel
  • Gold Bond Ultimate 3% Salicylic Acid Psoriasis Therapy Cream
  • CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream with 2% Salicylic Acid

2. Products containing glycolic acid like:

  • DERMAdoctor KP Duty Dry, Rough, Bumpy Skin Moisturizing Lotion with 10% AHA+BHA

3. Coal tar products like:

  • MG217 Psoriasis Extra Strength 2% Coal Tar Gel

4. Dead Sea Mud

  • AHAVA Dead Sea Body Mud

5. Hydrocortisone

  • Cortizone 10 Anti-Itch Lotion For Psoriasis

Dr. Markowitz usually recommends Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment Body Spray to her patients. She says, “The thick cream is less likely to wipe off on clothing than traditional creams.” She adds, “Corticosteroids help manage the inflammatory response in the body and calm psoriasis flare-ups. However, they are available in different strengths. So, consult a physician to determine the best strength for your condition.”

What To Exclude From Your Routine If You Have Psoriasis

Say NO to anything that feels harsh and rough on your skin.

Dr. Kunin asks to resist the temptation of using physical exfoliants. She says, “Physical exfoliation with scrubs, mitts, or loofahs can aggravate the condition.”

Dr. Markowitz asks to avoid artificial fragrances and other drying and harsh ingredients (like sulfates and alcohol). She says, “Avoid fabrics such as wool, flannel, and synthetic fabrics like polyester. Also, avoid fabrics with low thread count as they feel rough on the skin and may irritate it.”

If your skin is broken or bleeding, Dr. Kunin suggests healing it first with bland hydrating agents and then using exfoliating ingredients like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acids to chemically dissolve and lift the scales. This will help prevent stinging, burning, or irritation.

How To Manage A Flare-Up And Calm The Skin

Anything that can cause stress (like a drastic change in temperature and tight clothing) or irritate the skin (certain ingredients) can cause a psoriasis flare-up. To deal with that, Dr. Markowitz suggests the following:

  • Protect the skin from cold or dry weather.
  • Use a humidifier to prevent dryness and flare-ups.
  • Use clothes and beddings made of soft cotton fabric. Use lighter color fabric to conceal shedding.
  • Use a hypoallergenic detergent.
  • Avoid using cosmetics with fragrances as they are the most common triggers for psoriasis.
  • Check your lifestyle habits. Try to reduce stress and consume a balanced and healthy diet as stress and poor diet can lower your immunity and worsen chronic conditions like psoriasis.

What Supplements To Take

Dr. Kunin says, “You may take fish oils supplements. Cold-water fish oil is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may help. You may also take vitamin D3 supplements.”

What Are The Treatment Options?

Dr. Markowitz says, “Taking systemic immunosuppressants helps a lot.” She adds, “Psoriasis treatment may include using Retin A (in the prescription form, it is Soriatane). Methotrexate and Cyclosporine can ease the symptoms by curbing the immune system and slowing down skin cell growth. And lastly, there is Otezla– one of the newer drugs for psoriasis. It shuts down the immune system to slow down reactions that may cause inflammation.”

Living with psoriasis may appear tough, but it is not impossible. You can always keep your skin happy and healthy, and for that, you must know what to include and exclude from your daily routine. Also, it is crucial to work with your doctor to manage psoriasis. Psoriasis management and therapies may differ according to the symptoms. So, keep track of your symptoms and inform your doctor. That’s the only way to figure out the best possible routine that works for you.

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